The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash

Today is the day that you will always remember as the day I officially announced The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash. Okay, so none of us are probably going to remember that, but I can always hope.

I’ve fallen hard for flash fiction in recent months, and in an attempt to spread the love and joy and oh-my-goodness-someone-hold-me and all that jazz, I have decided to host a flash fiction writing challenge. Details below.

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What is flash fiction?

Definitions vary depending on who you talk to (some even argue that there is no suitable definition). For the purpose of this challenge, a flash fiction is a story that is 1000 words or less. I suggest checking out this article and also this article for a more complete rundown on flash fiction.

A challenge, not a contest.

This isn’t a contest, guys; this is merely a challenge (also, I find using merely to modify challenge strangely ironic). There will be no voting or scoring or saying whose is best or whose is worst. There will be a giveaway (more on that later), but it won’t be based on “merit”.

This is only supposed to challenge you to write, to venture into a new story, and to exercise certain writing muscles that are typically neglected. Hopefully, this will inspire and motivate you as a writer.

How it works.

If you are up to the challenge, you can fill out this form.

Everyone who signs up will be sent a unique prompt (song or picture, depending on preference) to use as a springboard for the story. You will have three weeks to write your flash fiction.

Ideally, you will post your story on your blog, mention in the blog post that you’re participating in The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash, share your prompt in the post, send me the link, and then I will compile all the links to the stories into a wrap-up post here on Penprints (please let me know if that doesn’t make sense).

Note to those without blogs: please join in the challenge. Even if you are unable to post your story on your blog, you can still send it to me in Word or Google Doc form, and I can format it into a clickable PDF that will be included in the wrap-up post (again, please tell me if that doesn’t make sense).

The timetable.

Sign-ups will be open through May 10, 2017.

Prompts will be sent out by May 13, 2017.

Stories/links to stories are due back to me by 11:59 pm on June 3, 2017.

The giveaway winner and wrap-up post on Penprints will go live on June 5, 2017.

Reasons to participate.

Now, you may be asking (or you may not be, I really can’t know), “Why should I participate in this challenge? Why should I write a flash fiction at the behest of this strange person on the internet?”

I’m glad you asked. I’ve taken the time to compile some solid reasons why you should join me in this challenge.

1. Because I think flash fiction is amazing.

You know what, I could stop right here with that reason alone because it is. so. solid. But for the sake of the unconvinced few, I shall continue.

2. It will stretch you as a writer.

If you think writing a good story in 1000 words or less is easy, think again. Flash fiction has redefined hard for me as a writer, and writing it grows me so much.

3. It may help you out of a writing slump.

It is so rewarding to hold a completed work of your own fiction in your hands, but novel writing takes a long (long) long time. While still time-consuming (it typically takes me 30 minutes to eck out a rough draft and then another couple hours of editing), flash fiction is much quicker to finish than a novel, and I’ve found that it gets all my writerly gears humming happily along.

4. Oh, also, there’s a giveaway.

All those who send their stories/links to their stories to me will be entered into a giveaway.

The giveaway prizes are: a one year, print subscription to the Splickety Publishing Group magazine of the winner’s choice and a hard copy of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (if the winner already has these, a comparable prize will be negotiated).

5. I want to read a story of yours!

No two people can tell the same story, and so I very much want to read how you tell a story.

Guidelines.

– Your story must be 1000 words or less.

– Anything with excessive violence or profanity will not be included in the wrap-up post.

– Any erotica will not be included in the wrap-up post.

– Your story must be sent to me by 11:59 pm on June 3 to be included in the wrap-up post.

– You must have fun. ;)

And that, kids, is The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash.

Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested in participating! Also, the hashtag to use is: #flashficdash.

In case you want to slap it on any social media or blog posts or anything, here are the various challenge buttons:

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the challenge circle on a transparent background

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button 2

button 3

If anything is unclear, just let me know in the comments below so I can amend this post to make it as comprehensible as possible.

Guys, I’m jazzed.

Do you think you might participate? Have you written flash fiction before?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – did I mention that there’s a giveaway?

P.P.S. – also, did I mention that I’m jazzed?

Train Thoughts: Resting Up & Pouring Out

It’s Tuesday.

Penprints on a Tuesday? What heresy is this okay, it’s not actually heresy, but whateva? Well, hopefully you’ll understand by the end of this post why this is landing in your inbox on a Tuesday.

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I didn’t spend Easter at home. Instead, I hopped on a southbound train to visit some beloved people of mine: my brother, Luke, at college; my good friend, Allie (also at college); my grandparents; and my cousins.

I was excited for it in my head–I miss them all, Luke especially–but I was tired, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. It wasn’t one big thing that wore me down, just many smaller things falling on me, steadily eroding.

And I was filling up nearly every day in my quiet time with God, but it was never quite enough to carry me through, like I couldn’t get completely full, like it was never enough to compensate for how much emotional and spiritual energy I was spending. So I ran aground, came up dry, emptied, tired, and disheartened.

But then my train arrived.

Allie picked me up at the train station, looking like the perfect picture of all my summer memories of her and driving a car called “Karen”. She opened her home to me and let me stay with her while I was in town; I hadn’t seen her in months.

The first chunk of time was spent with Allie, catching up with her and learning about her life over crepes (I didn’t even know what crepes were until she showed me).

The Story of How I Learned About Crepes:

Allie: “Want to get bubble tea and crepes?”

Me internally: “What’s a crepe?”

Me externally: “Sure!”

Allie: “What kind of crepes do you like?”

Me: “Oh, you know, um….”

Allie: *laughing* “Do you know what a crepe is?”

Me: “Ugh, no.”

Allie: *laughing more* “Rosalie! Okay, they’re…..”

Conclusion: crepes are scrumptious.

We sang Rend Collective in the car. We ate watermelon cookies and laughed when my teeth turned red. We tried on bunches of sunglasses. We talked about God and what we’re learning and how we’re actually doing. We took Polaroids and sang while she strummed her guitar.

And it was good.

Then I was with Luke. I finally met all of his roommates and saw him lead his small group. I saw the place where he works (Luke At Work is such a cute Luke) and saw the airport where he learns. I laid on the floor of his room while he read me reviews of the laptop he found to replace my dead one. For almost an hour. Because he made it his personal mission to find me the best laptop. We rode his motorcycle and went hiking and stared at the sky and talked about church and love and life and hard things and blessings and happy things. He took me to a Casting Crowns concert, and we worshiped together to some of my favorite music.

There were so many other good things about this trip.

I spent a night with my grandparents and heard my Grandpa play his trumpet on Resurrection Sunday. I saw my cousins and we shared music and took a walk and laughed so much and cried a little too.

But it was good.

I went into this trip with nothing to give, but I came out of it full. It was rest, the rest that I so needed. It was a blessing to me, and the Holy Spirit did great work in me. He reminded me of my own weakness, my hopeless dependence on Him, my inability to do any good on my own, and He taught me the value of a pause.

Sooner or later, we all run out.

We all end up like a charred, crumbling match, essentially useless because we’ve burned up, we’ve spent ourselves.

And that’s why we need to take time away. We need to step back for a few days and relearn how to be still in God, we need to be away from those who drain and surround ourselves with those who fill.

Guys, using yourself up is not noble.

Never retreating is not godly or any shade of right–it’s arrogant and detrimental to your ministry. And you don’t necessarily need to go on a weekend trip to regroup every time you’re tired, but you do need to be intentional about taking rests and serious about seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit.

But we are not filled for our good alone.

We are filled to pour into others. And when we run low, we seek rest. And when we rest, we seek filling again. And when we’re full, we empty ourselves in others. And then we rest, and the cycle goes around and around.

Resting. Filling. Emptying.


These have just been all the jumbled thoughts that have been running through my head while I rode trains home today.

Tell me what you’re thinking.

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – go listen to Train Station by The Gray Havens because the imagery takes my breath away and makes my soul happy.

Future Stuffs

There’s a lot coming, things that have yet to happen. It’s called The Future (that’s for those of us who weren’t sure). More specifically, there’s a lot coming to Penprints because my life (yours, too) revolves around this blog.

So let’s dive into all the Future Stuffs. [gif warning]

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Blogiversary.

First of all, I just want to say up front that no one really knows how “blogiversary” is supposed to be spelled, and so don’t go messaging me to tell me that I mispelled it because there’s no right way.

You say: “Blogoversary”, someone else says: “Blogiversary”, and another person says something else altogether.

Well…

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How about we just call it a “blog anniversary” to make things simpler? Yeah, let’s do that. Anyhoo, Penprints is about to be four years old. And, yes, that means exactly what you think it means–I’ve been obsessing over this blog for four years now.

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they grow up so fast

Tempus fugit, kids.

Am I going to do an over-the-top celebration replete with hundreds of dollars worth of giveaways in honor of this blog’s anniversary? Erm, that would be a no. Sorry, kids. :( I thought about it, but the grand celebration will have to wait until Penprints is five.

BUT, that leads us to our next piece of The Future:

A New Design.

In years past, it has been my custom to rename this blog around the time of each anniversary, but I will be refraining from that this year (I sort of promised my dad–my most loyal follower–that I would stop renaming my blog whenever the urge struck). However, a new theme and updated header and color scheme and such are all in the works as we speak (er, uh, as I type and maybe as you read).

I don’t have an exact date on when the new design will go live, but it is somewhere in the Near Future. Thus, I am mentioning it in this post on The Future.

Newsletter.

That’s right, kids, I’ll be starting a newsletter. This is also a Near Future sort of thing. I’m considering kicking it off in June while beta readers destroy my novel. Now, that will have all sorts of swanky giveaways to lure you all to sign up, and it will have newsy-type stuffs. There’ll be pictures of Graham (obviously), little writing updates, reading updates, life stuffs, a quarterly giveaway, and such. Does that sound like fun? The correct answer is “yes”.

Also, I’m getting published.

No, my novel isn’t getting published (yet). If you follow any of my social medias, you already know that back in March (The Distant Past) I signed a contract with Splickety Publishing Group, and they will be featuring a flash fiction I wrote in their April issue of Havok.

Me externally:

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“Well, I’ve got a short story that’s getting published here in April, and so, yeah, I’m pretty excited.”

Me internally:

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“SLDJF :SLD:JF LJKFLKJSOEJISDLKF! I can’t breathe!”

This. is. actually. happening. For the first time, I’ve been paid to write (of course, all the money they paid me rolled right back into ordering way too many wait, there’s no such thing as too many when it comes to this extra copies). Please excuse me while I go faint somewhere (again).

This leads into the next Future Stuff item.

The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash.

As prep for submitting to Splickety, I bought and read a book called The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and it has revolutionized the way I look at fiction as a whole and flash fiction in particular. I developed a great love for flash fiction, guys, and I want you, my readers, to love it as well.

So, I will be hosting a writing challenge later this month (that’d be the Near Future). Details will be released in a few weeks, but the idea is to get you writers writing a flash fiction and get flash fiction into the hands of you readers. I’ll share are the participation stuffs in the Very Near Future. I’m so jazzed.

My Novel.

I’ve begun edits on Beasts! And, as you may have noticed if you have eagle eyes, I mentioned beta readers in June (that was way back when we were chatting about a newsletter). Well, my edit has been rescheduled to July, and so I’m going to have time to give Beasts to some beta readers in couple months! So, if you’re interested in beta reading Beasts and your June looks fairly clear, comment below or message me, and I’ll add you to my list of potential betas. :)

In the meantime, I’ll be working through edits.

Let’s drop a futuristic bookend on this post on The Future.

What’s in The Future for you? Do you think you’ll participate in The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash? And what do you think about a newsletter? What Future Stuffs of your own are you excited about?

With love,

Rosalie <3

Finishing Draft Three {somehow an excuse to post baby animal pictures}

Peeps, I did it.

I finished Draft Three (aka: The Draft That Wants to Kill Me) of Beasts. And I did it without dying, so I feel like I should get extra points for that.

And I’ve recovered ALL of my files from my dearly departed laptop due to the tireless efforts from some of my amazing church family members (needless to say, there was much relief and thanking God). Also, I kind of owe a life-debt to the people involved with the finding and preserving of said files.

Instead of telling you about Beasts itself (because that would make sense), I’m going to tell you how the last week of my life was like trying to finish this beast (oh, see what I did there?).

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To put it frankly, this draft was really hard.

Here’s a bit of backstory: Draft One was written back in 2015, and let me tell you, it was awful (is “plotless” one word or two?). A marginally better Draft Two came out in 2016, but I don’t like to speak of that draft.

Draft Three is where all the heavy lifting happened. I took about 5,000 words from Draft One, maybe 8,000 words from Draft Two, and then I scrapped the rest (yeah, that was tough). Work on Draft Three lasted six months, and all that work boiled down to this past week when I faced a hard deadline.

The Story of How I Got a Hard Deadline:

Me to me: You can’t watch Beauty and the Beast until you finish Draft Three.

Me: What? You wouldn’t?

Me to me: Wanna bet?

Then I came up against The Face of Great Distraction.

The Face of Great Distraction:

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“Hi! I’m a week old, and I have a sister and five brothers, and we’re all really adorable and make such adorable sounds, and you should love on us instead of work on your novel.” — actual words this puppy said to me.

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“Hey, I’m very needy. You need to pet me and pay attention to me and give me treats and talk to me or else I’ll be forced to jump on you to make sure you know I exist.” — Bear every single time I try to be productive.

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“I’m Boots, just an adorable goat kid with four kid cousins, and you must come see me and let me chew on your clothes and climb in your lap and dance around in goat kid happiness.” — Boots the goat kid every. single. day.

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And let’s not forget My Precious.

I knew I was avoiding my novel when Graham said to me: “Rosalie, I’ve been stalking this mouse hole for three days now. You should help me hunt this tasty morsel.”

But instead of saying: “Graham, you don’t speak English, and I have to finish this draft,” like a normal person would, I said: “Oh, great idea, Precious! I’ll bring coffee and my BB gun, and it’ll be just like old times when you were a kitten!”

After two hours of our stakeout, I had to face the reality that it was all in my head and that I needed to get back to finishing Draft Three. That’s when My Precious gave me this look:

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Um, this face. :O

Okay, I did not spend two hours on a stakeout with Graham, but let me tell you I THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

But, guys, in The Face of Great Distraction, I prevailed.

It was making coffee at 9:30 pm some nights to fuel me for a night of writing. It was getting up at 4:00 am (aka: Stupid Early) to write before work some mornings. It was coming up against all kinds of fear and hate for my story and writing anyway.

It was reviewing my outline and throwing out what no longer seemed to work. It was word wars with lovely writing friends (a shout out to Brittany, Katie, and Nadine). It was taking a break to write a flash fiction and then coming back to my novel after a week with fresh drive.

It was my sister asking “Are you going to write?”. It was sharing my wordcounts with my dad and him cheering me on. It was my mom telling me some nights that I needed to sleep instead of write because I really needed the rest and my writing would be better for it.

It was praying for God’s hand in this story more every day. It was realizing that since He’s given me the green light, I need to go, no more indecision, no more fear.

It was hard, and my novel still needs a lot more work.

There are still several more drafts to come, but it’s finally starting to look like a story. When I read it next week, it’ll probably be awful, but it’s so much better than it was.

The Draft That Wants to Kill Me is finished.

It came to just over 93,000 words (a number I hope will shrink with more editing), 33 chapters, and an epilogue.

And for those of you who have made it to the end of this babbling post, here’s an aesthetic board and then the premise of Beasts (so I guess I’m telling you a little about Beasts after all…).

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I own none of these pictures.

Premise: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast told in the words of the witch who cursed the Beast.

Let’s chat, peeps. What are your struggles with your WIP? What part of the writing process are you in right now? What are the faces of your distractions?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – seriously though, guys, Graham’s face in that last picture causes me some concern.

The Truth About Stress

I’m a bit stressed right now (translation: I’m a lot stressed right now).

Mainly because I have a deadline for Beasts (my novel WIP, just so you new kids know), and I still have a disgustingly huge amount of work left to do on it… like finish Draft Three (aka: The Draft That Wants to Kill Me), do a quickie Draft Four (to fix Draft Three’s issues and kill off a few more characters), give it to my alpha readers, evaluate and apply their feedback, and then send it off to my editor… all before the end of April (my dear editor, if you’re reading this, now you know that when I said I’d give it to you “April-ish” it really meant “the end of April”).

Oh, and there’s the bit about how my computer decided to depart from this world… and I haven’t backed it up since December (DECEMBER). And the flash drive I used to back up all my documents in December (that’s three whole months ago for those of us who struggle with math) is winning a game of hide and seek (that means I can’t find it). And we’re not even 100% sure that I’ll be able to recover my files—including 80% of The Draft That Wants to Kill Me—from my now dead laptop.

So here I am with an eye-twitch and an excess of cortisol (that’s a stress hormone for those of us who weren’t sure). I don’t lead a ultra-stressful life, but recently, I’ve been stressed (trust me, I know it’s my own fault). So, I want to chat with you lovelies about stress (who wants to see how many times I can use the word “stress” in one post?).

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First things first:

Stress is not a bad thing.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Say what now, Rosalie? I’m pretty sure the ulcer I’ve got is a bad thing.” Okay, so ulcers are no bueno, but that aside, let’s take a closer look at some different kinds of stress because it’s not one dimensional.

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this is quite possibly my favorite gif of ever; expect frequent use of said gif.

First, we just have good ol’ Stress: physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.

Then we have Distress: great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble; to be subject to pressure, stress, or strain; embarrass or exhaust by strain.

Now, before you say: “Aha! Stress=bad, Rosalie!”, let’s look at one more kind of stress. Eustress: stress that is deemed healthful or giving one a feeling of fulfillment. If you look at the roots of eustress, you’ll find that it literally means Good Stress. Boom.

Guys, stress isn’t always bad because it can be useful.

Stress pushes us to grow in so many ways. Right now, stress is pushing me to write every single day (because I kind of hate my story right now and wonder if it will ever get to a place where I’m happy with it and I don’t want to look at it or think about it so I’d rather not work on it because I hate it #fulldisclosure). Stress is pushing me to be more intentional with how I manage my time (i.e. – cutting out the excess and figuring out what can wait and what can’t). Stress is pushing me to grow up and say no to some things. Stress is pushing me to evaluate what things are most important (i.e. – relationships=most important; painting=less important). Because I’m stressed, I’m growing and maturing more quickly than I do when I’m comfortable.


So stress can serve a galvanizing purpose, but it can also be awfully distressing (see what I did there?). Here are the things that have helped me deal with stress.

Pray.

This is a no-brainer, but apparently I don’t have a brain half the time since this is one that I struggle to remember. Listen up, peeps: God is altogether divine, unthinkably vast, and wholly inscrutable, and yet He is interested in us and our problems—no matter how petty or dire. In all His supreme significance (there would be nothing without Him), He chooses to look down on all of our insignificance and care. And that, friends, is a mind-blowing reality.

So take your stress and give it to Him. Go before Him and explain your frustration and angst. I’ve found it’s an oddly humbling thing to tell God, not only that you’re stressed, but also why. Share your heart with Him. Ask for peace. Ask for energy. Ask for wisdom. Most importantly, ask Him to use your stress to somehow bring Him glory and bring about His will in your life.

Work the problem and set a deadline.

This is where you take a step back and evaluate your situation. This is where you strategize and lay out a plan to complete the task(s) that are the sources of the most stress.

For instance, I’ve had to look at The Draft That Wants to Kill Me and set a ballpark of how many words are left in the story to be written. After I got a general idea of how much story is left (it’s too much, guys), I figured out how much I have to write every day to finish this draft in time to get all the other work done on this novel before I send it to my editor. Also, I set a deadline. It was last Friday, but the laptop said bye-bye and delayed things. So instead of a date this time, I decided that I can’t see the new Beauty and the Beast movie until I finish this draft. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so motivated.

So come up with a plan, set a deadline of sorts, and do it.

Take small bites.

I’m not talking about food here, people (though I think we all kind of wish I was). I’m talking about being realistic and not overwhelming yourself. My tendency is to look at the source of my stress, decide it can’t possibly be done because there’s soooooo much to do, and then promptly shut down (usually with much wailing and gnashing of teeth). This. cannot. happen.

Don’t look at all the work you have left to do; look at what you can do today. Stay in the now. If you look too far ahead, you’ll get yourself tangled up in distress. Focus on what has to happen today and leverage the eustress.

Take calculated breaks.

This is not license to get tired of working on your project (or whatever it is) and then go cruise around Pinterest for three and a half hours. This does not mean that you should work for five hours and then take five for a snack.

This means work for 25 minutes, take a ten minute break, and then work for another 25 minutes (or something along those lines). Plan when you get your breaks and then set a timer when they start so that you don’t go over on your time.

Do something you find relaxing for your break. Go for a quick walk. Strum your ukulele. Do some stretches. Be a psycho and do a high interval workout. Drink a glass of water. Cuddle with your cat. Read a chapter in a book. Whatever it is you do for fun/relaxation, do it briefly as a break from your project.

Oh, and for the love of all that is good, don’t procrastinate.

Procrastination is usually the reason I end up stressed in the first place. I put off whatever project it is until it becomes impossible (in my mind) to complete, and then I shut down and procrastinate more.

Please don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating when stressed is like giving your rabbit caffeine (Out of Time series reference, yo); it only makes things worse. Much worse.

Check your attitude and watch your mouth.

When one (ahem, you and me) is stressed, it’s easy to snap at people and then justify it because one (you and me) is sooooooo stressed. Excuse me while I tune my violin and find some cheese to go with the whine. I’m so painfully guilty when it comes to this. For some reason, I think I get a free pass for being unkind or short because I’m stressed.

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when stressed, I am Toothless from this gif

Spoiler alert: we don’t get off free and clear for being waspish because we’re stressed. Don’t blame other people for your stress. Sure, it may be their “fault” if you look at it from a certain light, so don’t look at it in that light.

Take ownership for your stress. Take ownership for your attitude. Take ownership for the words that come out of your mouth. Don’t let your strained emotions rule your mind or your mouth.

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when stressed, choose to be Toothless from this gif


Now I need to get back to being stressed about my novel (I’m thinking eustress thoughts).

What do you do when you get stressed? Do you get stressed (if not, spill all your wonderful secrets in the comments so that we peasants may learn from you)? What things stress you out?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – profuse apologies to all you lovelies who have taken the time to comment on my last two posts. I’ve read (and reread and deeply appreciate) your comments and will be replying forthwith.

P.P.S. – did anyone count how many times I used the word “stress”? I think it’s somewhere around a lot.